Al Gore

Tomato pickers in Florida: To earn $50, fill and carry 125 buckets.
Photo: Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

Chipotle Grill has received a lot of good press over its efforts to support local food systems in the areas where it operates.

Even I’ve gotten into the act. In a post back in March, I reported on a conversation I had had with a Chipotle PR person:

I told her that as long as Chipotle was committed to paying a fair price to farmers — and not merely using them them for marketing leverage — I thought the company could play a constructive role in a nationwide transition to a truly sustainable ag. We’ll see.

Well, not so fast. From the excellent group blog The Pump Handle, in a post by Celeste Monforton, I learn that Chipotle has refused to sign on to a deal to pay an extra penny per pound for tomatoes from Florida, where farmworkers toil under brutal conditions for sub-poverty wages.

By pinching that penny per pound, Chipotle fails to meet the standards of such model corporate citizens as McDonald’s and Burger King — both of which have agreed to the higher price.

To get the details on Chipotle’s inglorious holdout, read Celeste’s linked post above and check out the website of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which has heroically faced down some of the globe’s biggest and most retrograde food corporations to get something approaching a living wage for Florida’s ruthlessly exploited farmworkers.

If Chipotle is at all serious about its pledge to serve “food with integrity,” it will stop dickering around and pay up in Florida.